Busch Gardens Williamsburg has opened their doors for the 2014 season! The weather was absolutely picture perfect; sunny, cheerful, and a much needed break from a very long and bitter winter.
As any Virginian knows, Sunday was the exact opposite. So much so, I decided to stay home in the warm cozy confines of my couch wrapped tightly in a blanket and missed out on opening day for the general public.
The park did not have any official announcements or meetings for Pass Members. In all honesty, I have nothing to report about future attractions and events this year. Thus, all I can discuss are the small changes I saw around the park.
The first thing was a ginormous sign advertising the new water ride “Colossal Curl” at Water Country. Personally, I burn as fast a boiling lobster, so Water Country is not a place I can utilize or enjoy. I do believe that this is the first time such a large ad for Water Country was built inside the gates of Busch Gardens.
Last year we were told about a new show called London Rocks. The show was not ready by opening weekend and from what I gather will be opening in May. There were no real changes to Banbury that I could tell.
Apollo was my first ride and for a good reason. Apollo is turning 15 years old March 30th; thus please see the gathering I created as a special event for Apollo fans here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1458860284333719/ Yay for Apollo! I noticed that by the time we reached the top of the first hill, we could see the traffic to get in the park stretched to the interstate. I tell you folks, it pays to get there early.
In San Marco, the Artisans of Italy and Bella Casa gift shops got a new and classy face lift. The displays were much brighter and cheerful. The artists looked happy and the porcelain flowers looked as lovely as ever.
Also in San Marco, the new deck and dining area was completed. It looked fantastic and allows more seating, which will be nice come the food and wine festival.
The Rhine River cruise was closed due to upgrades, but the bridge was open and the renovations looked to be mostly complete. The extra space will certainly allow more traffic on the bridge; a much needed improvement.
Nothing much to report in Oktoberfest except the Festhaus floor has partially been repainted to a blood red color. Not exactly sure what purpose that serves; it struck me as rather odd.
Heading towards Rhinefeld, the Bunny trail was up in all its glory. The interesting critters from Illuminights found their way on the Bunny Trail and also into the gardens near DarKastle. The snail (who many park enthusiasts have named “Oscar”), the ants, bees/lightening bugs, giant turtle, and frog are all there. Oscar the snail was missing his French chef hat and mustache and Mr. Frog was missing his top hat and monocle. Interesting, and I am not sure the purpose behind it all.
Land of the Dragons has been spruced up with fresh paint and looked to be cleaner and brighter all around. The kids should enjoy the new look for the 20th anniversary of the play area. Rumor is that there will be a new show. Something I hope happens. The area would greatly benefit from another family fun show and activity.
Le Scoot was mostly refurbished. Hopefully there will be no delays in opening the classic ride when the weather is nice enough to enjoy it. I am just thrilled to see one of the original rides at BuschGardens get some love. It is a true gem and one that holds tons of memories since 1975. Also in New France, the newly renovated bathrooms have not been completed.
Oh, and before I forget; Europe in the Air was running again. I didn’t get a chance to ride it, but it was nice to see that Killarney had an operating attraction this year.
Entertainment wise, Entwined was the only major show playing. The lovely Killarney village band and the Italian Ensemble were performing in Killarney and San Marco.
Celtic Fyre will be opening (hopefully) next weekend along with “This is Oktoberfest.” A Sesame Street show will replace “Mix it Up” until the end of April at the Teatro di San Marco. Rumors are buzzing that the Maypole dancers and the Aquitaine village band will not be returning this year. If so, I will miss both performances immensely. They really added character to the park.
That is about it. Not much to report other than I had a good time and enjoyed seeing my friends and meeting new Busch Gardens enthusiasts. I’ll be heading out again next weekend, so if there are any new additions, I will let everyone know.
I hope you all get to come out and enjoy the park this year! In the meantime, no more snow Virginia- please!
“Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share the keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.” ~Mattie Stepanek
It is pretty obvious I am a very sentimental person. I see life as a series of events that shape who we are and how we respond to the world around us. Someone once asked me in a job interview, “How do you see yourself?” It was a good question and one I had thought about before.
I told her that “I see myself as thousands of puzzle pieces glued together by people who have influenced my life in both a positive and negative way. My interests, my personality, hopes, dreams, morals; all of which stem from those moments in my life that someone said or did something that shaped my view of the world around me.”
I have always been very aware of connections that tie us all together. Sometimes they are recognized immediately, but most of them go unnoticed until much later. It is with great pleasure that I share this story with all of you.
When I started BGW Memories, people were frequently asking if I had any photos of the Brewery Tour. After searching for months, not one single picture surfaced. Then when I least expected it, I got a message from William “Bill” Wiley. He mentioned was that he once worked at the Anheuser Busch Hospitality Center. With that little note, he attached three photos. One was of the elusive Hospitality Center; another was the Eagle One monorail. My favorite was the picture of him proudly standing in front of a recruitment table.
I was electrified with joy! Not only did this serve to spark my own memories but I knew that it would be appreciated by hundreds of other BGW enthusiasts.
In January, I received an email for Bill’s daughter Nancy. She explained that her father had passed away and wanted me to know how much he loved BGW Memories. I started crying as soon as I read those words. I felt such a loss.
Chances are, I personally met Bill at some point. My mind began wrapping around the connection. I never knew that the man behind the smile at the Hospitality Center would later send me such a treasure trove of history. Even though I cannot recall the sound of Bill’s voice or conversations at the park we may have shared, knowing we both had the chance to reconnect is a miracle.
We go through our lives never knowing all the ways we affect others. Bill Wiley taught me that what we do, no matter how small, matters. In turn, I will never see the photos of the Brewery Tour again without thinking about Bill and his enthusiasm and kindness.
Thank you for sharing your memories with us Bill. Also to Nancy: Thank you for telling me how much your father enjoyed reading BGW Memories and how proud he was to be a part of Busch Gardens history. We will forever be connected and for that, I am sincerely grateful.
Please honor Bill by reading about his life. William “Bill” Wiley’s Obituary is found here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/DailyPress/obituary.aspx?n=William-Roy-Wiley&pid=168882269
“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
― John Steinbeck
For those wanting to know more about the Brewery Tour: a regular contributor to BGW Memories, Christopher Shwartz sent me links to the entire Brewery Tour captured on film. The You Tube videos were posted by “SCIONIZER.” Thanks to you both for this precious documentation of park history!